Summer is here and so is the bountiful crop of fresh and local fruits and veggies! Whether you are growing or purchasing local produce, it is a rewarding experience to support local farmers, provide fresher produce to your family, and save at the same time. Local produce begins to appear in MARTIN’S stores in late June through September. Visiting a farm is a fun experience the whole family can enjoy. Many farmers are happy to provide tours or talk to their community, in fact, nearly 90% of Virginia farms are owned and operated by individuals or families, just like you!
What will you find at the stores and markets this summer?
June: Asparagus (ends in June), beets, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, cucumbers, green beans, greens/spinach, fresh herbs, onions, potatoes, squash, strawberries
July – August: Apples, beets, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, fresh herbs, nectarines, peaches, peppers, potatoes (July), raspberries, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon
September- October: Apples, Asian pears, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant (ends in September), green beans, greens/spinach, fresh herbs, peppers, potatoes (October), pumpkins, raspberries, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
Now that you have filled your basket with fresh produce, time to take it home and enjoy it! Time is ticking to eat up fresh produce before it spoils and we have all been there! Take advantage of any free time in the kitchen to prep your produce to help save time on busy weeknights. Your family will be much more likely to eat it if it’s ready to go. You can wash and prepare carrots, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, squash, broccoli, green beans and melons; keep in the fridge to munch on for several days. Even your hearty greens like kale and collards can be washed, dried and stored for use later in the week. Wait to wash and prep fruits and vegetables that have a thin skin like strawberries, raspberries and peaches, they will need to be eaten within 24 hours for the best quality.
Try these ideas for incorporating local fruits and veggies into your family’s daily diet!
- Summer is great time for making smoothies! Try a green smoothie by adding spinach or kale. Peaches, blackberries and blueberries are delicious in smoothies.
- Bell peppers, cabbage, or even zucchini are great veggies to stuff with a mix of ground turkey or beans, quinoa or rice, other veggies, and fresh herbs like basil, oregano or cilantro.
- Wrap your favorite chicken or tuna salad in fresh lettuce leaves or stuff into a big Hanover tomato.
- Have the kids help you tear a bunch of kale into small bite size pieces to add to salads, mix into rice, quinoa or pasta dishes, or bake into kale chips.
- Use up a lot of veggies at once by roasting a large tray of peppers, onions, squash, eggplant broccoli, sweet potatoes and more! Add your favorite fresh herbs and olive oil. Roasting veggies brings out the natural sweetness in veggies to help cut the bitterness, making them more kid friendly! You can mix them into pastas, stuff into a wrap, or use as a pizza topping.
- Jazz up water or sparkling water by adding fresh berries or cucumbers or even fresh herbs like basil or mint.
- Add some natural sweetness by tossing a handful of berries or sliced peaches into cereals, yogurt, over ice cream, into salads, or top pancakes or waffles.
- Make watermelon savory by tossing with spinach, feta cheese and a vinaigrette dressing.
- Grill fruit for dessert! Grilled peaches and pineapples (OK, not local, but still great when grilled!) are delicious paired with vanilla yogurt or light ice cream.
Kids are often the pickiest eaters in the family, so take advantage of the dog days of summer to get the kids active in the kitchen! Involve them with possibly growing a garden, prepping, and cooking. Kids are much more likely to try their masterpiece if they had a hand in it! Enjoy the longer days and bounty of fresh produce this summer available to you from MARTIN’S!
Valerie Waters, RDN is MARTIN’S In- Store Nutritionist. Valerie is located in 3 Richmond area MARTIN’S stores and available to assist customers in their quest for healthy food choices! She has 13 years of experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist and has worked in the grocery setting for 7 years. As a working mom of two daughters, Valerie relates well to the challenges today’s moms face trying to establish and maintain healthy habits for a busy lifestyle. She is committed to offering practical advice based on up-to-date medical information to help families make sustainable healthy changes to their lifestyle. To get a plan tailored to you, call Valerie at 804-364-3644 to set up a one-on-one consultation.
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